Many parents with special needs children fully understand that if their child is not getting the supports and services they need, or they are not making progress on their educational goals, that the avenue of due process exists to help them secure what their child needs. But oftentimes, parents are unsure as to what the available remedies are to cure these harms.
In most cases, there are some very similar and simple remedies available for parents to consider requesting from a school district. Below we will review the most common options available.
While these are the most common forms of remedies available to parents for settling a due process complaint with the school district, this is not an exhaustive list.
In many instances once the parent and the District start working together in due process, other creative and new solutions are considered and implemented to assist a student in recouping lost educational benefits and moving forward more successfully within their current educational program.
Compensatory education is a remedy that can create a fund, in the child’s name, which can allow a parent to secure the following types of services; academic tutoring, speech and language, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, executive functioning, physical therapy, vision therapy and mental health services. And while this is not an exhaustive list of available supports and services, it does contain the most common.
The funding for compensatory education is provided by the District and is generally made available to the parent in two forms:
A) The parent can elect a “direct pay model” which allows the parent to choose service providers that are non-public agencies and are ready willing and able to enter into a contract with the District to provide a service(s) to the child. Using this method, the parent does not have to make any payments out of their own pocket, but instead the provider bills the District directly and the District makes the payment directly to the provider.
B) The second form of funding is called a “reimbursement model” which allows for the parent to choose a qualified provider and make the initial payment for services out of their own pocket. The parent is then responsible for providing the District with an invoice from the provider and proof of payment for the services rendered. Once the parent provides the District with the required documentation, the District will reimburse the parent directly.
The parent’s election of which payment model they prefer, depends upon their financial situation and the amount of flexibility they feel they will need to use the funding
Independent Educational Evaluations
Independent Educational Evaluations, or more commonly knows as “IEE’s,” allow a parent to have their child evaluated in a specific area of disability, by an outside provider who is not associated with the District. Legally, a parent is permitted to ask for an independent evaluation in any area where they do not agree with the assessment findings of the District. It is important to note that a parent does not have to state why they disagree with the District’s assessment and findings, but simply that they do not agree.
The areas in which a parent can request an IEE assessment include, but are not necessarily limited to;
· speech and language
· occupational therapy
· assistive technology
· physical therapy
· vision therapy
· auditory processing
· mental health
The cost of an independent evaluation is the responsibility of the District and is paid directly from the District to the parent’s chosen provider. It should be noted that each District has rates that they are willing to pay for each area of assessment. On occasion, the District’s noted maximum rate is insufficient to cover the cost of the assessment, in which case it is necessary to negotiate with the District for additional funding based upon local providers actual rates of service.
Non-Public School Placement
Very often when parents are upset at the program the District is offering their special needs child, they want to request a private school placement or non-public school placement. It is important for parents to understand that a District will not pay for a private school placement. Instead, a District will sometimes consider placing a student in a non-public school because the District does not have a program that meets the child’s educational needs. The difference is that a non-public school is a school that has been certified by the State to provide special education. However, it is important to understand the meaning of a non-public school placement. A non-public school placement is an environment that;
- Does not include any typical peers
- All students attending a non-public school have some form of educational disability
- Must be paid for either by a contractual agreement with the District the child attends or by the parent who may then request reimbursement from the District for all or part of the tuition they pay out of pocket
- A child placed in a non-public school is not placed there permanently. Instead the placement can, and often is, reviewed by the District periodically.
- A child can be requested to return to a District based program if the District believes they now have a program that meets the child’s individual needs.
While a non-public school placement can seem like the perfect solution for a child, it is important to remember that several factors must be addressed and met before a child can be deemed a good fit for a non-public school.
Changes to the IEP
In some instances, a due process complaint can address changes to an IEP. However, it is important to understand that, in general, changes to an IEP are considered team decisions and must consider the thoughts and recommendations of the entire team. On occasion some IEP issues can be resolved during due process including;
- Additional service minutes for related services such as speech and language or occupational therapy
- Additional services, such as adding mental health services to an IEP
- New accommodations as recommended by the team or an independent educational evolution recommendation
- One of the areas that the due process complaint will most likely not adjust is the child’s educational goals. Educational goals are often best left to those who work with the child in their educational environment and the parents.